Addictions and Native Americans

Addictions and Native Americans

Addictions and Native Americans

Addictions and Native Americans

Synopsis

Substance abuse is a major health and social problem plaguing Native Americans both historically and today. After presenting the social and psychological factors that have contributed to Native American addictions and the patterns of behavior and circumstances associated with this complex and widespread problem, French discusses the treatment, intervention, and prevention issues facing therapists. He also explores the development and consequences of a new form of addiction, compulsive gambling, focusing on its relationship to substance abuse. A major contribution of this volume is its review and critique of regulatory acts documenting federal policy.

Excerpt

During aboriginal times, North American Indians subscribed to a worldview that dictated intragroup cooperation. Intergroup conflicts existed between tribes, but archeological and anthropological studies indicate that these were sporadic and usually involved contested territories. Spectacular raids were not the norm, given that horses were not introduced until European contact. Considerable intracontinental interactions were evident, with well established foot trails and trading, especially between the eastern, plains, and southwestern tribes. the normative structure supporting this cooperative lifestyle is known as the harmony ethos. a common theme prevailed across tribal group despite variations in their creation myths, one that promoted respect for “Mother Earth” and “Father Sky.” Mother Earth represented all that constitutes the earth, including water and all living creatures. Father Sky interacted with Mother Earth, providing wind, weather, the sun, stars, and moon.

Common to various aboriginal worldviews was the concept that humans are not considered superior to other living creatures. Nonetheless, aboriginal tribal groups did distinguish themselves from other elements within nature, including fellow humans, by referring to themselves as “the people.” Clearly, this concept of a group identity separating it from other human groups connotes ethnocentrism, a common human phe-

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